METROPOLIS – Vistra and its subsidiary, Electric Energy, Inc. announced Tuesday the retirement of the Joppa Power Plant by Sept. 1, 2022, three years earlier than previously disclosed.
According to a press release from Vistra, the revised closing date is part of an agreement Vistra has reached in order to settle a complaint brought by the Sierra Club in 2018 before the Illinois Pollution Control Board concerning allegations of environmental exceedances occurring prior to Vistra’s ownership.
Due to the mounting financial and legal pressures that now come from operating coal plants, the company is renewing its call for passage of the Illinois Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act to facilitate Vistra’s $550-million repurposing of coal plant sites across central and southern Illinois.
“My heart breaks for the employees of the Joppa coal fired power plant, as news was released this morning that the plant will close three years earlier than first announced,” State Rep. Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis said in a news release. “Vistra, the parent company that manages the site, has announced that it has reached an agreement with the Sierra Club, a radical environmental group that sued Vistra for violations it didn’t even make. To see the rug pulled out from under employees that had been told they would have a job for three more years than they will actually get is appalling. It is further disappointing to see another company bullied out of business by the radical Sierra Club, an environmentalist group whose goal is to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels.”
Vistra said it’s in the process of working with the plant’s local union leadership and will honor the plant’s locally negotiated commitments regarding severance and outplacement benefits, as well as wages, health care, and other benefits during the remainder of operations.
The Joppa Power Plant opened in 1953 and currently has approximately 115 employees. The plant is a multi-unit site, including six coal units with a combined capacity of 1,002 megawatts and five natural gas units with a combined capacity of 239 megawatts.
“The Sierra Club and Democratic politicians throughout the country are enacting policies and filing lawsuits that are destroying the coal-fired power plants and coal mines that have provided good-paying union labor jobs and affordable home energy prices for decades in Southern Illinois,” Windhorst added. “It is my hope that the people of Illinois, and the people of the United States will wake up to the agenda being pushed by the Sierra Club and Democratic politicians and realize these policies destroy jobs and wreck economies. Southern Illinois is blessed with abundant reserves of coal – a naturally occurring element that is used by major economies throughout the world as an affordable, reliable way to provide energy to massive numbers of people. Vistra says it supports turning the real estate at several of its properties into solar farms. Solar farms should be a part of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy portfolio that includes the use of coal fired power plants, natural gas, and other renewable energy sources.”